Report 10th January 2012

Baltic Cruise: Moscow – St.Petersburg

Norman Hails, Programme Secretary for Bilton Men’s Forum, spoke about a river cruise holiday from Moscow to St.Petersburg in the spring of 2008. 

During the holiday his excellent slides showed the transition from a wet, cold May in Moscow to the uncomfortable heat of St.Petersburg in June. An aural tape of the monks of St.Cyril monastery on the river Volga   (“Mother of Russia“) added to the atmosphere of the talk. 

   Particularly memorable were the many traditional wooden churches and cathedrals, including the Church of the Transfiguration built on the flat, watery environs of KIZHI island, which had been a pagan ritual site centuries before.  Nearby Norman’s party had visited a baboushka’s house and found that many older Russians still yearned for the old communist certainties when welfare payments were guaranteed. 

   At St.Petersburg (Leningrad from 1924 to 1991 ) the Palace of Tsarskoe Selo bequeathed by Peter the Great to Catherine 1st displays such wealth and ostentation of gold and amber that the party had a greater understanding of why the battleship Aurora ( also seen ) opened fire on the Czar’s Winter Palace in 1917.  This event started the Russian revolution.

During questions our popular member, Denis Smith, displayed a knowledge of the Russian language which gained him a round of applause, the first ever for a contribution from the floor! 

Michael Cockrane, our new member from the now sadly defunct Woodlands Men’s Fellowship, gave the vote of thanks on behalf of another large gathering.

                                                                               John Taylor     

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